Event: OCC.0278

J. Pavone String Ensemble

May 12, 2022

As an instrumentalist and a composer, Jessica Pavone’s creative practice encompasses and moves beyond developing a personalized voice on her instrument. Since 2012, she has established an individual body of material for solo viola, concentrating on the tactile elements of performance. These structured yet indeterminate pieces stem from intensive long tone practice and an interest in repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration, resulting in four studio albums.

Providing the groundwork for her compositional language, in 2017, she created the J. Pavone String Ensemble (then 2 violins and 2 violas) as an outgrowth. The foundation of her recent ensemble compositions is research on the effects of sonic vibration on human physiology and emotional health. Sustained pitches and clusters of ensemble sounds generate specific physical and cognitive benefits intended to impact the audience physically and mentally, existing within and beyond music’s canonical role. The compositional techniques borrow from and elaborate on traditional music notation. Pavone experiments with improvisatory techniques, alternating between metered and time-based scores and improvised and notated instructions. The ensemble approach focuses on a vision of collective improvisation that prioritizes a collaboratively sewn musical fabric, in contrast to the traditional improvisatory method that prizes the individuality and uniqueness of the soloist. The rehearsal method, influenced by her solo work, attends to how the body plays a role in sound and intention. The group has performed at the Graham Foundation in Chicago; the NYC Winter JazzfestFirehouse12 in New Haven; Roulette and ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn; and The Rotunda in Philadelphia.

In 2019, the string ensemble’s debut album, Brick and Mortar, was hailed by the Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak as “the most assured, bracing work of Pavone’s career.” Astral Spirits Records released their second, Lost and Found, in 2020 to critical acclaim from publications such as; The Wire, The New Yorker, NYC Jazz Record, NPR, Jazzwise, and was named a “Best Contemporary Albums of 2020” by Bandcamp Daily. Chris Ingalls from Pop Matters described their music as “too stunning to lump into genres.”

This tour celebrated the release of their third album, …Of Late, on Astral Spirits Records and featured a new lineup consisting of Pavone on viola, with Aimée Niemann on violin and Abby Swidler playing both violin and viola.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (120 College Street)